Have you ever heard it said that putting a penny under your tongue will
help you trick a breathalyzer machine? Or that rinsing your mouth out
will help lower your blood alcohol content (BAC) reading? Or that you
should hold your breath for a long time right before you blow?
Unfortunately, none of these tips and tricks are true. Read on as a Birmingham
DUI attorney debunks these myths and helps you understand exactly what to
do if you are asked to blow into a
breath test machine.
Myth #1: Sucking on a Penny
The urban myth that sucking on a penny can trick a breathalyzer machine
is just that – a myth. The idea was that the copper and zinc in
the penny would interfere with the chemical reaction that the breathalyzer
machine translated into a BAC reading.
The problem is that breathalyzers do not actually work that way. Instead
of using a chemical reaction, breathalyzers actually measure the concentration
of alcohol in a person’s breath. So even if pennies do interfere
with a chemical reaction in your mouth, they don’t affect the breathalyzer at all.
They just taste terrible and are covered in germs.
Myth #2: Rinsing with Water or Mouthwash
Another way many people say you can “fool” a breath test is
by rinsing out your mouth with water or mouthwash before blowing into
the machine. The problem with this myth is that, while it may rinse a
very small amount of alcohol out of your mouth, it does not affect the
amount of alcohol that is in your blood stream and diffusing into your
lungs – which is what the breathalyzer actually reads when you blow into it.
Also, most mouthwashes contain alcohol, so that would be counterproductive.
Myth #3: Holding Your Breath
The last myth we will debunk today is that, if you hold your breath for
as long as possible before blowing into the machine, it will reduce the
amount of alcohol in your breath and result in a lower BAC reading. The
exact opposite is actually true.
The breathalyzer test measures the amount of alcohol in your lungs. So
how did the alcohol get there in the first place?
When you drink alcohol, it isn’t all metabolized by your liver at
once. Some of it enters into your bloodstream and makes its way through
your system – sometimes several times – before it is entirely
After you’ve had a few drinks, alcohol passes through the veins in
your lungs every time your heart beats, and some of it diffuses into your
lung cavities. Therefore, if you hold your breath, the alcohol builds
up in your lungs with every heartbeat until you exhale.
Holding your breath does not decrease the alcohol content in your lungs
So What Do You Do if You’re Asked to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
You have two options if you are pulled over for DUI and are asked to blow
into a breathalyzer machine:
- Refuse to take the test
- Take the test
Do not refuse a breathalyzer test, though. Alabama is an “implied consent” state. This means that, if
you are driving on a public road, then you are considered to have “automatically
consented” to taking a chemical test. If you refuse to take a BAC
test, then your license will be immediately suspended, you will still
be arrested, and you will still be charged with DUI.
Your best course of action is to take the test and retain a Birmingham
DUI attorney immediately. Refusing a breath test does not guarantee that
your DUI charge will not end in a conviction. Instead, the prosecution
can use your refusal as an argument that you were trying to hide your
Take the test. Call a lawyer. Fight your DUI.
Call a Birmingham DUI Attorney at (205) 800-8596
Tidwell Law Group, LLC has more than a decade of experience fighting drunk driving charges in
the Birmingham area. We offer fierce and effective representation to reverse
the suspension on your driver’s license when possible and prevent
a DUI from harming your driving record. Don’t let a DUI ruin your
reputation and your future.